Management of the UK’s 0.7% ODA Spending Target

A rapid review assessing how the UK government manages the 0.7% Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending target.

Background

The UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of its Gross National Income (GNI) on international aid – a commitment that became enshrined in law in 2015 – is at the heart of the UK’s aid policy. It led to an initial rapid scaling up of UK aid, and required an equally rapid evolution in capacity and business systems within government.

The UK is one of only seven OECD countries to have reached the target, and is currently the only G7 country that meets the target.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is required by HM Treasury to spend or save the difference between other ODA spend and the 0.7% GNI target to make sure that the ODA commitment is met by 31 December each year. The department also has an objective to improve the value for money and transparency of UK aid, including maintaining the 0.7% commitment, keeping all UK aid untied, supporting other departments in ODA spending, and reporting the government’s performance against achieving the target to Parliament and the OECD each year.

Scope

Reviewing the commitment itself is not within the remit of this review. The review will focus on how ODA spending departments and cross-government structures such as the Senior Officials Group manage the value for money risks associated with the spending target. It will also explore how ODA spending departments have generated and applied lessons learnt to their approaches on value for money in managing the 0.7% spending target.

Our review will cover the period from 2013 to 2019, and will build on previous reviews conducted by the National Audit Office. It will include a strategic review of key government documents, interviews and focus group discussions, and case study samples of government departments, cross-government funds, and other aid spending. As a rapid review, it will not be scored.

Review questions

  1. Relevance: What is the process for allocation, monitoring and management of ODA spending targets to individual departments, and how well is this process governed and managed?
  2. Efficiency: What are the value for money risks associated with meeting the spending target, and how well do the responsible departments mitigate them?
  3. Learning: To what extent have departments reduced the value for money risks associated with meeting their spending target?

Timeline

Research for this review began in July 2020 with publication expected in November 2020.

Call for submissions

As part of this review, we held an open invitation for evidence, seeking views from supply partners, grant recipients of ODA-spending UK government departments, and other interested parties about how the UK manages its spending target. The deadline for submissions closed on 14 September 2020.

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